10 Tips To Help You Make Time For Your Family
Has it been weeks since you last talked to your mom? A month since you last spent quality time with your partner? Are you worried that Captain Hook might be turning your son against you?
If so, you may be suffering from out of skew work-life balance! And, in keeping with the drug commercial vibe of this intro, we’ve got the prescription to help you spend more time with your family.
*Please note: it is unlikely that more cowbell will increase time with your family.
Unlike a drug commercial, however, our cure isn’t a one-size-fits-all miracle pill. We’re going to level with you. This is going to take some effort – the payoff, though? So worth it!
There is no perfect work-life balance
Let’s get something out of the way – in the same way that there’s no magic pill to give you more time in your day, there’s no way to strike a perfect balance between time at work and time with your family.
Some days, you’ll work more. Some days, you’ll spend more time with your family. It’s about balancing those two priorities over time, rather than only over the course of a day.
#1: Set goals and priorities
Setting work goals is simple enough: you can use KPIs, individual tasks you have to complete, or a whole whack of other metrics to figure out what’s most important to accomplish and get at it.
It can be a bit more difficult to set goals regarding your family. Let’s be honest – most people don’t even schedule time with their family. Instead, family time is seen as a given. That’s why it’s so easy to lose balance – you’re setting goals and scheduling your work, but not your family time.
Change that. Decide how much time you want to spend with your family, what that quality time will look like, and when you’re going to schedule it. Put it in your calendar.
#2: Let little things go so you can make big things happen
There’s a great quote from productivity guru, Tim Ferris: “Do not work more to fix overwhelm. Prioritize. Define the single most important task for each day. Let small bad things happen to get the big important things done. Define the few things that can really fundamentally change your biz/life. If you don’t have time, the truth is – you don’t have priorities.”
Sometimes, the single most important task in your day will be finishing a work project. Other times, it will be attending your child’s baseball game or school play. Generic examples, I know, but they illustrate the point.
*Hopefully the school play is as…interesting as this one.
You might not get everything you want to get done at work done – but if you leave a little work behind in order to spend time with your family, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it – you’re only human, and you only have so much time in the day.
#3: Communicate your needs
Whether you’re talking to your partner or you’re talking to your team at work, you need to let them know what’s going on in your life. Sometimes, you need a bit of time scheduled away from work to spend with your family. Sometimes, (sadly), you’ll need a bit of time away from your family to get work done.
Again, it’s not about finding a perfect balance each day – it’s about finding the right balance for you, over time. Your friends, family, and co-workers can only accommodate your needs if they know about them. Communication is key to any relationship, and if you want to find the right balance, you’re going to need to talk about it.
#4: Automate mundane tasks
One way you can increase the amount of time you spend with your family is by decreasing the amount of time you spend at work.
That’s the dream, but how do you do it?
Automation is the key. You can outsource a number of your tasks to software, from appointment booking softwares like Bookedin, to consolidating all of your office communications on a platform like Slack.
You can even automate answering emails by hiring virtual office assistants. You want to direct all of your time and energy to the important stuff, so if you can hire virtual assistants to take care of the more mundane things while still making a profit, do it.
#5: Hire more staff
Some things, of course, can’t be done easily with virtual staff. A lot of business owners handle everything on their own – the scheduling, the accounting, the programming, the customer service – and that can leave you with basically zero time to spend with your family.
I understand this mentality – you want to put everything into your business to make it the best it can be. You’ve got to be careful, though; if you pour so much of yourself into your business that you have no time left for other people, you might end up like this guy:
Obviously, that’s not where you want to be (though it might be fun to have ghosts visit you with moralistic messaging).
#6: Prioritize your health
If you’re not healthy, you’re going to find you don’t have time to do the things you want to at work or with your family. You need to prioritize your health above all else. It’s like you’ll always hear on an airline – you’ve got to put your mask on before putting anyone else’s mask on.
You need oxygen.
Taking care of your health doesn’t just mean your physical health – you need to take care of your mental, spiritual, and emotional health too. That means that leaving work aside and spending time with your family can actually supercharge you to work better when you get back to it – you’ll be mentally and emotionally revitalized.
#7: Schedule time with your family
We’ve already touched on this, but the point is so important that it’s worth making a whole section about it.
Scheduling time with your family is, in some cases, as complex as scheduling meetings with your co-workers. You need to know their schedules and your schedule, and you all need to agree on a time when you can get together and do things. It can be helpful to get a family Google Calendar going so you know exactly when your family members are busy, and when they’re free.
You might also benefit from putting important dates like birthdays and anniversaries in your calendar. There are things in life that are more important than work – if you’re reminded of them well in advance, it’s that much easier to plan for them.
#8: Take a vacation
Taking a vacation isn’t always easy – you have to find the time to schedule it, and trust that your team will be able to manage things until you get back.
You deserve it. Your family deserves it. Put that trust in your team, and live the good life for a bit.
We’ve talked about how important it is to take care of your health – a vacation is a great way of taking care of yourself. It’s also an amazing way to have carefree, quality time with your family.
A word of advice – leave a couple days off when you’re back from your vacation so you can get back into the swing of things gradually. Going from tropical paradise to paperwork in the overly air conditioned office within a 24 hour period can be stressful.
“I’ve just got to check my email” becomes “I have to take care of this”. “I just have to check my Slack” becomes “I’m going to be late for dinner”. When you’re constantly plugged in, you’re constantly reminded of the work you have to do. Soon enough, you’re looking like this:
You need to unplug. There’s always more work to do, just like there’s always more time you could be spending with your family. When you’re too focused on how you’re not doing one, you won’t be able to fully enjoy the other. Take a break from your screen. You might even set “no screen” hours, where you’re away from your phone or computer entirely, simply enjoying quality time with your family.
#10: Set boundaries
You need time to yourself, and time with your family. You can use scheduled lunches to spend an hour with your partner, and use breaks to get on a call with your kids.
That is, if you’re firm that you need to be left to your own devices on your breaks.
There can be a lot of schedule bleed in some workplaces – you might have a scheduled break or lunch, but your work starts to bleed into your “you” time. You then have to schedule your lunch or break later, throwing off your routine, and making it more difficult to spend quality time with your family.
When you need to, be firm about your break and lunch time. Obviously, there will be some days when schedule bleed is inevitable, but these should be the exception, not the rule.
You might not be able to use all of these techniques to make family time, but even using some of them should let you find ways of being with the ones you love the most. You know what’s important to you – prioritize it, and you’ll find the time.